Saturday, March 31, 2012


Kids can be so darn cute that sometimes you just grin from ear to ear and about burst with joy.

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Other times, they can be great opportunities for, ahem, growth and refinement.

Like during tonight's special church service.

Let's see...six year old Merry mooned the congregation tonight for several minutes tonight when I picked her up for a piggy back ride during worship and eight year old Travis, along with his chair, pitched over completely during the sermon. Oh, and there was the very talented child --- who shall remain unnamed because he is a teenager and I have some shred of mercy and empathy in my body--- who dropped his Bible in such a way that it sounded like a small thunder clap despite the fact that the floor was carpeted.

Did I mention that we had a guest speaker?

And we were on the 2nd row.

With no one sitting in front of us.

But we were in front of everyone else.

Alas, what mortification of the flesh awaits us during tomorrow's service?

Friday, March 30, 2012


Today was our homeschool group's annual spelling bee and you can bee sure that we've got some rejoicing and bragging going on around the MacHouse.

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After some pretty stiff competition (after all, we are homeschoolers and all the stereotypes say we rock at this sort of thing, right?), my oldest son David came in first place. His oldest sister Betsie had won it five times when she was till young enough to participate. Now that she's aged out, it has been a goal among my younger kids to one day wear the mantle of spelling bee champ.

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David felt really good about his win but felt even better when the $16 prize money was put in his hands! It is amazing how motivating the chocolate for all participants and the cash award is for these kids! Now if only I can get them as excited about cleaning their rooms.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I've shared before the exciting news about my daughter's upcoming trip to Africa. You've heard my side of the story, now here's her side of the story:

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Dear Friends and Family:

If you haven’t heard yet, the Lord has told me to go back to Africa this summer. You may think, “What?!? Anna was just in Africa in January. Why is she going back so soon?” I know that the Lord told me to, and He told me even though I wasn’t asking (more on that below). Would you please pray for me? Please pray for the Lord to provide for me to go (I need to raise $5,475 by May 18th), to protect me before, during and after the trip (physically, emotionally and spiritually) and to prepare me for this trip so that His kingdom will be spread through me and in me. If the Lord puts it on your heart to give, or someone asks you how to give, please send donations to Adventures In Missions (more information follows at the end of this letter). Now, why am I going on this mission trip and what will I be doing?

Maybe you're surprised, maybe you're not. I know I was very surprised (to put it mildly). I'd heard about this trip last year, mentioned as a "would you be interested in..?" by an Adventures in Missions staffer that I know. However, knowing that I'd already be going to Swaziland with my family, I said, “no” and didn’t give it a second thought. Then, right after New Year's I found out that one of my best friends had signed up for this Expeditions trip and she jokingly asked me to come along. I said, “no” again and laughed it off. But about a month later, when my mom and aunt asked about the trip, I finally figured that maybe the Lord was saying something to me and decided to consider it.

So what will happen on this trip? Basically, I will be backpacking with a team as well as using other methods of travel to get from place to place in eastern Africa. Specifically Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, around Lake Victoria. To be honest, I can't give a lot of details about what we'll be doing because there aren't alot of details. I do know we'll be staying at some homesteads with locals, ministering at the hospitals, helping at churches, etc. I'm holding out for working at a refugee camp, especially when I found out that Kenya has the world's largest camp, with more than 450,000 people. This is what Adventures In Missions has to say about the trip:

"Pack lightly! Your expedition will take you through Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya as you share the love of Christ with those you meet along the way. Be prepared for a life of simple living, since the goal of this trip is total immersion into the way of African life.
You will eat what they eat.
You will live in their villages.
You will walk with them.

You’ll be sent out like the disciples were. Jesus told them to travel light and to heal the sick, preach that the kingdom is near, and to cast out demons. This might happen as you play with children, or visit a hospital, or meet the neighbors and pray for them. You may be called upon to lead worship services, devotionals and small group meetings; preach; teach, and disciple youth. You’ll evangelize to large groups and at an individual level."

I was still really hesitant about signing up, especially because this trip is going to cost $5,475 on paper, but in reality probably closer to $6,000 or more, but at my mom's urging I did think about it and prayed about it, totally expecting to hear nothing and that be the end of it. But, of course, that wasn't how it happened. I had my iTunes music library on shuffle, and every single song that played was along the lines of, "I will waste my life" "I will go" "Come away oh my soul" and the like, which when there's more than 5,000 songs in your library, is kind of remarkable. So I turned off my music and just silently prayed for wisdom, and it started to seem like the only possible thing I could do with my summer was "waste" it on another missions trip to Africa. Every Bible verse I read just served to enforce what I was feeling, that I was supposed to go on this trip. I told God (since I really felt like he was saying "go" but when I kind of wanted him to be saying "no") that whether I went or not would have to depend on my dad. Whatever he said was the final word.

Ironically enough for me, my usually opinionated and decisive father told me he "didn't feel anything about it one way or another, so I'd have to pray about it myself and ask God for a specific confirmation. A walk on water type moment." Which really wasn't what I wanted to hear at all, but since I'd already promised that I would abide by whatever my dad said, I agreed to do just that.

I went up to my room, wrote down in my journal the verse where Peter asks Jesus to tell him if he should walk on water or not, paraphrased it to fit my needs, and promptly was distracted by the television. The next day I started my morning devotions with a purpose, which was not to jinx or fix in any way what I might hear from God by reading anything that might pertain to missions. I have a friend who sends me daily Bible verses that are usually rather random so if I have nothing better, I'll read the chapter those are found in, to try and get some context. The verse she sent me that day was from John 4, and after seeing that the majority of the chapter deals with Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, I decided to read that, fully confident it had nothing to do with missions or anything of the kind. Instead, what I found was this: "Then Jesus replied, 'My nourishment comes from doing the will of God...Wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages and the fruit they harvest is people, brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both...'" and everything just followed suit after that.

The long and short of it was I know that I know that I know that I'm supposed to be on this trip. It's probably going to be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Just spending two months with people I don't know will be worse than pulling teeth to me. But this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my summer.

As I mentioned earlier, this trip is not cheap. And I've already missed the mark to turn in fifty percent of the money. Please let me know if you’ll be praying for me as that is so important. Also, if the Lord puts it on your heart to give towards this mission here is the address and website where you can give (don't forget to put my name in):

Adventures In Missions
P. O. Box 534470
Atlanta, GA 30353-4470

...or go to Select "Passport" then type in "Anna MacLellan". The prompts will lead you the rest of the way.

Thank you all so much,
Anna MacLellan

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


There are specific things going on in Swaziland right now that really need to be prayed about. Would you join me in taking these matters to the Father?

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First off, our missionary friend Dudley Donaldson has pneumonia. Would you please pray for him to receive rest and healing? He especially asks for prayers because he is scheduled to start a new round of Bible classes this Saturday for Zionist pastors and church leaders.

Second, please pray for the VanderWal family. They serve in Swaziland as medical missionaries. Echo is due to deliver their new baby in less than 24 hours. Please pray for the expectant mama and precious baby daughter during this time of waiting, labor, and delivery.

Third, please pray for a tragic situation. A father was walking his young daughter to a school and carepoint that is located across from the Manzini dump when a car hit him, the little girl, and the baby he was carrying. The father and little girl were killed. The baby was injured, admitted into the local hospital's ICU, but later released. Please pray for those grieving in Swaziland right now. This is a carepoint that Adventures in Missions and Children's HopeChest is involved with. I've personally spent time there as have both of my teenaged daughters and many of our friends. The little girl's mother had to be admitted into the hospital for a while after learning the news but she is home now with the released baby and that baby's twin. An entire family, community, and network of short-term missionaries around the world are hurting right now. Please pray for them and pray that somehow, good will come out of this horrific situation.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Last week, our homeschool group visited a local nursing home as a ministry outreach. We delivered baskets filled with goodies and sang songs, read scripture verses, and shared poetry in the common room with the residents healthy enough to be up and about.

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Some of the ladies living there were bed-ridden so we walked along the halls visiting with them in their rooms. In one such room, there were two ladies. One was very alert and interested in what we were doing. As we sang Amazing Grace and another song or two, her eyes stayed focused on us and she clearly enjoyed what we were doing. The other, frail, elderly lady lay in her bed with her eyes closed and her head slumped over onto one shoulder. She looked completely out of it. I figured she was sound asleep and wasn't even aware of our presence.

As the group left the room, I stepped over to her bed. I thought I'd just say something to her before I left. I was hoping that maybe her spirit would receive sweet words of Jesus' love even if her minid couldn't.

Was I ever in for a surprise! As soon as I started talking to her, she perked right up. She told me how much she loved music. She told me that when she was younger she used to love to sing. She went on to tell me her name, why her mother chose it, about where she grew up and that her daddy was a preacher. She even told me about her January birthday and when I said "well I'll have to wish you an early happy birthday then" she said "no, a late one". We had a happy little chat and I told her that when we were both in Heaven, we'd have to meet at the feet of Jesus and sing Amazing Grace together.

It was a beautiful experience. Here I was about to write-off this precious woman as not even being with it enough to be ministered to very much. I was basically saying "what's the point?"

I'm so glad I decided to speak to her. Granted, I was just going to say a quick little something such as "God bless you" or "Jesus loves you", but God took my teeny bit of intent and did something bigger with it. He made a 90-something year old woman's eyes shine as she talked about those she loved and her Lord. He used me to pour out God-originated affection on her. That in and of itself was a joyful gift to me.

But I received another gift that day. I received the important reminder that we can't always tell who we are reaching in this world. I need to be careful to not write people off too quickly. I don't need to assume just because someone seems disinterested or out of it or even rude and mean that what I'm doing and saying isn't having an impact on them. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to see the results. Sometimes I might not ever see the results. But I need to keep on loving, keep on speaking the truth, keep on blessing, and leave the rest to God.

It might not be that they aren't listening --- it might be that they were simply resting their eyes because life had been long and tiring.

Monday, March 26, 2012


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"The concern for world evangelization is not something tacked on to a man's personal Christianity, which he may take or leave as he chooses. It is rooted in the character of the God who has come to us in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can never be the province of a few enthusiasts, a sideline or a specialty of those who happen to have a bent that way. It is the distinctive mark of being a Christian."

— James S. Stewart

Sunday, March 25, 2012


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“When God's finger points, God's hand will open the door.”

- Clarence Jones

Saturday, March 24, 2012


On Thursday night, Jim and I took our four teenagers and a million of their friends --- okay, actually only six --- to the midnight premier of the HUNGER GAMES movie. It was packed out and a lot of fun.

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And if you want to know if we liked it, let's just put it this way, Anna and Betsie just left with yet another friend to watch it again. Yes, just two days later.

Was it perfect? No. Where there parts that each of us wish they'd done differently? Yes.

But overall, the movie stayed true to the message and plot of the book and delivered a good movie with powerful points.

Here are some more shots from our Thursday night at the movies:

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We arrived nearly two hours before the movie started. Had to make sure we got good seats.

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Happy faces after the movie reflect satisfaction with what they saw.

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We were told that seven showings sold out on opening night, er, morning.

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David tired out on the way home...but not too tired to eat popcorn.

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Home, James.

Friday, March 23, 2012


In honor of the opening day of the HUNGER GAMES movie, I am re-posting a piece I wrote last year after reading the book:

A year or so ago, moms of the homeschool board that I frequent started posting about a new book they were reading, HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. I checked it out from the library but it was due back before I got to it and so back it went. Time went by and my oldest daugther Anna decided to read it. She checked it out and was quickly hooked. Loving it, she was frantic to read the sequels and have me, her dad, and her two oldest siblings read it so she'd have someone to discuss it with.

Her dad and brother both tore through it and her sister Betsie and I are reading it as quickly as we can, not wanting to take too long to see how the main character, Katniss, fares in the Hunger Games. In this post-apocalyptic world, a nation has emerged with a minority that rules and has plenty of food, medical care, expensive clothing, modern technology, time for entertainment, and iron-clad security. But the majority live in outlying areas where they labor long, rarely have enough to eat, live a style that is much more primitive, have very limited educational and vocational choices, and die all too easily. In these oppressed districts, people often go to extreme and dangerous ends to gain food illegally. Katniss is one of these people. After her father dies, she is forced to become a provider and hunt for her family. She daily faces death by going into forbidden areas to gather wild, edible plants; berries; and roots; as well as hunt animals for precious and rare meat that can be traded and sold in the black market of their society.

One way that the ruling minority keeps the districts under their control and at the same time provides "reality tv" entertainment is through the Hunger Games. Two representatives, always between the ages of 12 and 19, from each district are picked to fight in a prolonged fight to the death. Names are randomly selected on a "Reaping Day" and those eligible adolescents who are particularly hungry and desperate, can have their names entered extra times in the drawing in return for more food rations for their famiies. After a period of training and preparation, the contestants are placed in a expansive area for the actual competition. In the spacious arena that can include bodies of water, deserts, forests, rocks, hills, and meadows, the 24 participants must use both their survival skills and their fighting skills to stay alive. If they are the one, remaining competitor at the end of the challenge, their district and their family will be rewarded, in part, by receiving even more food as well as other perks.

There is a real life nation that sadly parallels this fictitious one in a few ways: Swaziland.

Swaziland does not have a Hunger Games competition nor does it have outlying districts that are oppressed by a central capital. But like the country in HUNGER GAMES, there is a minority of people who are financially secure and a majority of people who are struggling, sometimes simply to survive. Drive through the streets of the two main cities or some of the smaller towns and you will see signs of prosperity...beautiful homes, hair salons, fitness gyms, fashion boutiques, and plenty of food visible in the grocery store windows. But look around and you'll also see signs of extreme poverty. You'll see the squatter's village and homesteads comprised of battered huts and shacks, the children wearing raggedy clothes, and the stray dogs that are skin stretched over bones.

And spend time there talking to people and hear the stories.

Stories of...

...adolescent and elementary aged girls selling their bodies for enough food for one meal.

...old women who have survived off of water and wild greens for two or three weeks.

...children as young as 2 and 3 years old walking 45 minutes to an hour just to get their one meal of the day at a carepoint.

...fathers and mothers who leave their children alone day after day and night after night, sometimes for weeks at a time, so they can work at the only job they can find in a city hours away from home.

...scores of children standing on street corners, by bus stops, and near shop doors begging for a few coins.

...entire neighborhoods dependent on what they can dig out of the city dump's trash heaps to eat, and what they can't eat, to sell for money to buy more food.

...gangs of youth raised without a father and desperate for food and money who have resorted to robbery.

...elderly, arthritic grandmothers hoeing up the dry, rocky soil for hours on end in an attempt to grow a few ears of corn in a land hammered by drought.

...parents having to chose between feeding their children or seeking medical care for their children because unemployment rates are skyrocketing and there just isn't enough money to cover both the needs.

Too many people, including way too many children, are in desperate situations. Like the contestants in HUNGER GAMES, some will die of malnutrition and starvation before they will resort to acts that go against their principles. Others will resort to doing whatever it takes to get food, even if it means participating in dishonesty, theft, prostitution, and even murder.

In HUNGER GAMES, the competitors can gain sponsors to provide assistance for them during their competition. A particularly popular contestant might have water or medicine delivered to them at especially crucial times. These interventions by the sponsors make all the difference for the contestants. Sometimes, these interventions mean life, at least for a while, triumphs over death.

In Swaziland, there are thousands of children who can gain sponsors to provide for them during this desperate trial. This is no fictitious game. This is harsh reality. We can't close the book and it quits existing. Whether we want to think about it or not, thousands and thousands and thousands of children will not have enough food to eat today. They and their care providers will be faced with difficult decisions as they struggle to just live.

We have decisions to make, too. Are we going to step in and make sure that they have the food, water, and medical care needed at this especially crucial time? The intervention of organizations such as CHILDREN'S HOPECHEST and ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS make all the difference for the children they minister to. Sometimes, these interventions mean life, at least for a while, triumphs over death.

I realize that I am one person and can't feed every child in the world. I can't pay for every child to be educated or receive the medical care they need. But I can sponsor one or two. I can make a difference for them. And if others sponsor one or two or three, before we know it, a generation of children can be saved in Swaziland. A generation of children can grow up having to make the only kind of choices that children should have to make.

This isn't a game. It isn't a fictitious story. This is reality. Now let's write the ending together.

For more information on sponsoring a child, like 7 year old Simpiwe who lives with 7 siblings, visit Danielle Brower's website at:

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Today is my sweet mama's birthday. The younger kids made her cards, I sent her a gift made by a fellow African-freak, and we called her at lunch-time and sang Happy Birthday to her. She said that with my big family, you don't have to wait til church to hear a choir!

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As our conversation ended, her best friend of thirty-five years arrived to pick her up for lunch. Miss Betty had set up the reservation to do lunch with my mom a month ago. Smart woman. One year I tried to plan a birthday surprise and take her out to lunch but she was already booked up for the day.

You see, folks that know my mom know that she is high quality. She's loyal and gracious and honest. She's the kind of friend --- and mom --- that you can count on to be there when you need her.

I am very thankful to God that I not only have the blessing of knowing her, I have the blessing of having her as my mother.

Happy Birthday, Mama! I love you so much!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


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"But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there's a harvest." --- Luke 8:15

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Our church is going thru 40 days of fasting and praying for break through as we journey towards Easter weekend. Renewing the mind is essential when true change is the goal. Whether it is being set free from addictions or bringing about healing in relationships, the mind can be a battlefield.

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L.A. Joiner will be speaking at our church in a couple of weeks. He shares this:

It seems that every new direction requires changing your mind. It has been overstated that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Yet a truer statement has not been made. It sounds easy enough but changing your mind is one of the most difficult things. It requireshumility that says, "either I was wrong in the past or what I thought in the past is no longer adequate." Changing your mind takes great courage because if you declare that you are changing your mind you must now take the risk that this new direction might fail. At least I'm surviving in my present state and no one sees me failing. Changing my mind might bring disaster. Of course it might also bring a new success! It also requires faith. You must believe in the new direction and pursue it with passion and conviction.

Our becoming Christians, followers of Jesus began with a decision to change our minds. We make a lot out of the way we see people converted but the most accurate definition is a changed mind. That is what repentance means, changing one's mind. I can't truthfully find a "sinner's prayer" in the Bible. I have seen many, far too many who prayed that cure all prayer and never fulfilled their commitment to Jesus. I have seen others who focused on the act of changing their mind and they have never looked back. The mind change is a powerful force!

My point here is that I have talked a lot of people into saying and praying things that was beyond their mental assent. They didn't stick! Recently someone who loves me was telling me that if I would go to a truly vegetarian diet my health issues would be over and fixed. I thought of all the reasons they were wrong but could find none. I said, "I believe you are right but I'm not willing to pay that price yet"! I still believe they are right but that kind of believing doesn't bring miracles or new fruit. I have to believe and then come to a place of changing my mind about what I am doing.

What areas of your life do you need a change of mind? You understand, you even have faith but you are not ready to change your mind and commit to the new direction or decision. Consider this verse:

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." --- Phil. 2:13

God is able to give you the very desire that will lead you to obedience through a changed mind. Pray and ask Him to help you today.

To read more by L.A. Joiner, visit his blog:

Monday, March 19, 2012


As I've stated before, I'm more than just a teeny, tiny, bit of OCD about photo editing. I was finally able to get a bunch of them edited, cropped, and resized for blogging purposes. So without further adieu, here is a photographic recap of our St. Paddy's weekend:

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St. Patrick's Day started out with a special oatmeal-chia seed pancake breakfast. We used green frosting to decorate the shamrock shaped accent ones.

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Gotta love my special sockies.

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After breakfast, the three little kids and I spread some green lovin' by planting wild flower seeds around our farm a la one of our favorite Five-in-a-Row book characters, Miss Rumphius.

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Then it was on to a birthday party for a very special one year old, the son of our church's youth leaders.

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Our St. Patrick celebrating continued on Sunday because we're just awesome that way. Lunch was our traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage made into scrummy reuben sammies. Jim and I had our's with a side of special chippies. Sweet potatoes...yum, yum!

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After naptime, the little kids and I decorated cupcakes that Betsie helped them make before she left for youth group.

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Anna helped with the admiring and eating part...her favorite parts of cooking. We kinda admired them, too.

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Yep, life's just a party waiting to happen when you're part of the MacFamily.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


"Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little and they always fail.

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All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence to be with them."

---Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Hope your day has been as fun as ours. Because when you live in a home with a child named Patrick...

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...then that means the day is going to be one big celebration.

After all, with a family our size, we're just a party waiting to happen!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I don't know about you, but many times, I don't feel so good about voting where political elections are concerned. I often feel like I need to hold my proverbial nose and just vote for the least unappealing choice.

But today is different!

I'm asking you to vote for something you can actually smile about.

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I'm asking you to take only one minute and vote for an organization that is changing lives. Your vote is very important and will help SOLE HOPE win a grant that will help them to make an even bigger difference in the lives of children, widows, and families in Uganda and Zambia.

Here's what SOLE HOPE has to say about what they do:

"Millions of rural children are living with jiggers in their bodies. They are unable to walk or even work and this results in trauma, isolation which leads to low self-esteem. This is a problem that has been overshadowed by other plights, but can not be ignored. Sole Hope provides a tangible way to prevent this parasite while paying the workers a fair wage to complete the closed toe shoes that will be given to children where it is rare for them to own a pair."

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I've posted a video and a link to their website below that will tell you more about SOLE HOPE. After you've learned more about their work, I hope you'll visit and vote for SOLE HOPE. This is one vote you can feel good about.

Oh! And unlike our American political process, you can not only vote more than once, you are encouraged to do it once a day til the voting ends.

Sole Hope Promo 2012 from jason garris on Vimeo.

To read more about the work of SOLE HOPE and how you can get involved either through buying shoes or holding a shoe cutting party, visit their website:

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Thursday, March 15, 2012


My 18 year old daughter, who will be quick to tell you that she is not called to live and serve in Africa, just received word that she will be spending two months this summer in......Africa.

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Yep, for the 5th time since she turned 14, she'll be traveling to that continent as part of a ministry team. This time, she'll be roughing it to a greater extent than she's ever roughed it before. She and her Adventures in Missions Expedition Team will be traveling thru Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. They will not be staying in hotels or fancy game parks.

Here's how the Adventures in Missions website describes it:

"Be prepared for a life of simple living, since the goal of this trip is total immersion into the way of African life.

You will eat what they eat.
You will live in their villages.
You will walk with them.

You’ll be sent out like the disciples were. Jesus told them to travel light and to heal the sick, preach that the kingdom is near, and to cast out demons. This might happen as you play with children, or visit a hospital, or meet the neighbors and pray for them. You may be called upon to lead worship services, devotionals and small group meetings; preach; teach, and disciple youth. You’ll evangelize to large groups and at an individual level."

To say that this is going to be an adventure like no other is an understatement. To say that I'm excited about what God is going to do in and thru her life is an even bigger understatement.

I've known for a few weeks now that this trip was a possibility but we just received confirmation from AIM today that she was accepted. It truly is a God-thing as none of us saw this coming. We'd just been on our trip to Swaziland in January and she had just been to Thailand this past summer. She is starting college in August and was perfectly content with moving to New Orleans this summer, getting settled into her new home, finding a job, adopting a kitten from the animal shelter, and starting her new life as a college student. A summer mission trip, especially not back to Africa, wasn't anywhere on the horizon.

Or so we thought.

God sure has an amazing way of jostling our plans around.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

You can read about the Expedition Team that is in Uganda right now at their blog:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Okay, so it isn't completely wordless. In fact, I guess since the image I've selected for Wordless Wednesday is actually almost completely comprised of words, I should be calling this Wordful Wednesday.

Anyway...Anna begged Betsie to make her some biscuits for her to have before she left for work this morning. So sweet sister that she is, Betsie stayed up late last night making biscuits so all Anna would have to do this morning is pop her share in the oven.

When I awoke, I found this note gracing the kitchen counter:

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Sisters. You gotta love 'em.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Just wanted to post a potpouri of happenings here in MacWorld.

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*Jim took our youngest son, Travis, on a Cub Scout outing this weekend. He and a million other boys, dads, and a few intrepid moms, spent the night on the U.S.S. Kidd in Baton Rouge. They were also able to tour the associated museum. My friend Rhonda summed up my feelings related to this event when she commented on facebook after seeing the photos, "thank you Lord for dedicated fathers". Because, of course, their going means we don't have to!

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*And speaking of dedicated fathers, one of the things I'm up to these days is continuing to edit photos from our recent Swaziland trip, and while working on them, I came across this one of Jim and five of our kids. I love it --- in large part because of the role Jim plays in it. He's not only a hard worker, faithful husband, dependable friend, and gifted teacher, he's also a fun dad who is often right in the thick of things with his kids. Whether it is taking the boys on a scouting outing or just playing around, he does what he can to have fun with them and let them know how how much he loves them.

*It is spring break around our area. We're not going out of town nor are we stopping schooling completely --- after all, we took off three weeks in January for our trip --- but we are taking things easy. The kids have been spending extra time with their friends and my "son of another mother" is actually over here now for a couple of days. My sister-in-law on the Coast is going to bring up her three kids for a visit when they have their break in a few weeks.

*Betsie and Anna are both still working their regular jobs. Anna works at a frozen yogurt shop and Betsie provides after-school care for three kids in our neighborhood. They are also both working one night a week providing childcare for our church, Betsie's been babysitting some extra days during spring break, and she has been offered another job as well. David might even be up for a job as soon as he turns 15 next month. I'm really proud of how hard working they are.

*Our house is now up for sale. We've got to sell it as part of the preparation for moving to Swaziland and before we could move to WE WILL GO if that's what God continues to lead us to do. We try to go serve and be a part of the ministry at least two to four times a month but as long as we're living out here in the country, the level that we can participate at WE WILL GO will continue to be limited.

*Five of us Macs are running a 5K next month. It ain't your regular ole 5K and it ain't for the regular ole reasons but that's a longer story than I have time for telling now. Be watching a future post for those details. But I can assure you, it is going to be crazy...and a bit muddy, too. Okay, a lot.

*Today is primary elections today here in Mississippi. We'll be going and voting for our choice for the presidential nomination. Even though I mostly feel good about the candidate I'll be voting for, Rick Santorum, I'm already sick and tired of this presidential election. I just hate how nasty things get. I hate the drama that the media whips up to sell papers and magazines and air time. I hate all the negativity. I just hate it period. It is hard for me to believe I used to be a news talk, political junkie. I don't even recognize that girl anymore most days. To be honest, it is times like this that I wish we were already living in Africa. That said, if you live some place where primaries are going on, don't forget to go out and vote. And don't vote for someone just because you think they're a done deal or you think they are the best candidate to win the election. Vote for who most closely mirrors your values and beliefs. At least, that's what I'm doing even if I won't be walking to the polling booth with a spring in my step.

*Okay, I can't leave on such a pessimistic note. I know, I'll tell you about something much more pleasant. As part of homeschooling, we've been "rowing" a book entitled MISS RUMPHIUS all about a lady who made her world more beautiful by planting flowers all over her community. This afternoon, we'll be watching THE SOUNDS OF MUSIC because Maria definitely made her world more beautiful with her gift of music. I want my children to dream about ways that God can use their unique gifts to make the world a more beautiful place, too. Maybe one of them will grow up and figure out a way to make the selection of our leaders a more pleasant experience?

Monday, March 12, 2012


"To want to serve God in some conditions, but not others, is to serve Him in your own way. But to put no limits on your submission to God is truly dying to yourself. This is how to worship God. Open yourself to God without measure. Let His life flow through you like a torrent.

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Fear nothing on the road you are walking. God will lead you by the hand. Let your love for Him cast our the fear you fell for yourself".

--- Francois Fenelon, THE SEEKING HEART

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This is Thabiso. He's the little boy in Swaziland who I asked you to pray for a couple of days ago.

Swaziland Thabiso at Timbutini (child hit by car)

He lives in the Timbutini community which is where Anna's mission team lived and ministered one summer and where I've been blessed enough to attend church twice. Many of our Swaziland friends either live in the Timbutini community, go to church there, or have family members that live in that area. Many people here in America have spent time loving on the kids of Timbutini and some are actively involved as sponsors.

He's just one little boy. A little boy hit by a car and now fighting for his life while lying in a Swaziland hospital in a comatose state.

But he's also more than that. He's greatly loved by his family, his friends, and people all the way around the world who have stepped out of their comfort zone and allowed God to break their hearts for the vulnerable children of this hurting nation.

Today, many hearts are breaking. This isn't the first time a child from this community has been hurt. Tragically, sorrow is a constant companion in a community where HIV/AIDS runs amok, broken homes are too common, and orphans are raising orphans in homesteads absent of adults.

But despite the frequent funerals and extreme hardships, a child fighting death is still a child facing death. For the mother who can only see her child just a few minutes a day as he lies on a hospital bed out of reach of her arms, the grief is just as heart-rending.

Please join with me and the hundreds, possibly even thousands, who are praying for Thabiso's miraculous recovery. Pray that one day his family and friends will bask in the joy of his smiles. And pray that people will continue to open their hearts to love these children, minister to these children, give to these children, despite the inevitable heart ache that comes from loving children living in a very hard and hurting place. Pray that somehow through this situation, some lasting good will come out of it. Pray that this situation and the grief that is involved will not be for naught.

I don't understand why tragedies like this occur, but I do know that God is still God and He has promised to be with us and to somehow make sense of it in the end.

"If through a broken heart
God can bring His purposes to pass in the world,
then thank Him for breaking your heart."


Saturday, March 10, 2012


*Being mistaken for one of my beautiful daughters by a neighbor walking past our house.

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*Listening to my kids, especially Patrick, howl with laughter while watching AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS.

*My 6 year old telling me that I was her best mom ever because I checked out books from the library about animal tracks per her request.

*Taking a walk with my two youngest daughters and one of their best friends and running part of the way just because I can.

*Throwing sticks for the dog to fetch.

*Bible time around the breakfast table with my husband and the kids.

*An unexpected visit and cozy chat with my best friend Rhonda.

*Clever comments made by friends on facebook.

*Wearing my new, black, comfy, faux fur-trimmed jacket that I bought for only a dollar at an end-of-season sale.

*Being told by my husband that the love and grace I show Him is assurance that God loves him.

*Looking forward to an evening filled with popcorn and several episodes of DOWNTON ABBEY with the teenaged girls.

What's got you smiling today?

Friday, March 09, 2012


I've just found out via Children's HopeChest that a child who attends the Timbutini Carepoint in Swaziland is in critical condition after being hit by a car.

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We have visited the church located at that carepoint twice and Anna's AIM Ambassador team spent a lot of time there in 2009.

Please pray for this child and pass on this prayer request to others. Thank you.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


By Paige Terry Hamilton

There was a confused look on my eight year old
daughter’s face as she sat amongst the chaos of Christmas morning wrapping paper. In her hand she held what she had discovered inside of the gift she had just opened, nothing but a small white card on which was drawn a simple fish. Julia slowly read aloud the words that were written on the card, “What will you name me?” Her bewilderment turned into sheer delight,an enormous grin began to spread upon her face. With an excited squeal of joy she asked, ”Really, Momma? A fish?”

To say Julia was excited about owning her very first pet is a complete understatement. Her joy was nothing short of rapturous. For days she could talk of nothing else. The wait until the pet store reopened after the holidays seem to be unending. Julia’s excitement mounted as she counted down the hours until she could go and pick out her already beloved fish friend.

Finally, the day came when Julia, her two sisters and I headed out to pick out the betta fish meant to live inside Julia’s fish bowl. The car was hardly parked before Julia jumped out, raced into the pet store and hurriedly found the fish display. She nearly swooned from the excitement of seeing the multitude of tanks filled with fish of every imaginable color, shape, and size. There in the back corner was a section of shelves lined with glass bowls. In each one swam a single betta fish.

The store manager brought Julia a stool to stand on so that she could get a better look at the fish. She solemnly peered into each glass container, sometimes talking softly to the fish contained inside while other times silently stroking the sides of the bowl.

As I watched my daughter go about the serious task of choosing her pet, I began to fear that this could be a torturous process. There were so many fish from which to choose. No two were alike and it seemed to me that each one was more stunning than the one in the bowl next to it. Brilliant reds, shocking blues, soft purples, iridescent greens ... there was even a shimmery gold one with bright orange and black flecks so that it resembled something similar to a leopard print.

My 13 year old daughter Maddie spotted an unusual, soft blue betta fish with tiny black stripes. It had short, spiky fins that somehow gave it the look of a beautiful bird’s feather. She tried in vain to get her younger sister to choose this spectacular specimen, but Julia was not impressed.

Ten year old Megan pointed out a fancy betta fish, vivid red in color with extra long, fluttery fins that whipped and whorled around it in the water. The manager, who noticed Meg’s interest, said, "That's a Half Moon Betta. It's very pretty and quite popular, but also much more expensive. It costs $20." I was preparing to tell Julia that we were not going to buy the $20 betta fish, but then I realized that my littlest girl wasn't interested in this one either for she was already quite enchanted with another fish.

After a quick glance into the bowl that Julia was practically holding, I was surprised to see that the fish at which she was gazing so lovingly was without a doubt the most unremarkable in a group of dazzling fish. It was a dull in color, a pale, almost washed-out pink that had something of a flesh-toned look about it. The fins on this betta fish weren't overly long or especially wispy like some of the others in the store. Yet still, this was the only fish that my
daughter watched with rapt fascination.

Julia caught my eyes and she exclaimed, "Momma ... look! See how she follows my finger! I’ve found my fish!"

So that's how it came to pass that we took home the plainest betta fish in the store. I felt some disappointment in Julia’s final choice, but not Julia. She beamed all the way home as if she knew she had found a rare treasure among all the glittering gems. As Sushi began to settled into our home, I began to see something quite beautiful in what I originally thought was just a rather plain fish. God spoke to my heart, reminding me how He loves to use the unremarkable, the unexpected, and even the unworthy to carry out His plans.

He used an elderly man to father an entire nation of peoples, numerous as the stars, countless as the grains of sand upon the shore.

He turned the uncertain stutterer into a man who would confront a pharaoh, bring forth plagues, and lead an entire nation out of slavery.

He used the very youngest and smallest of the underdogs to overcome the impossible giant.

He found the coward hiding in the threshing barn and used him to lead a tiny ragtag army into battle to defeat their unbeatable enemy.

He took the young virgin maiden barely old enough to leave her parents and used her as the one to bring forth His perfect salvation.

And that salvation ... well, it turned out to be a babe born in a barn instead of King triumphant in battle glory.

It was this same God who called out to a few weary fishermen, with their torn and empty nets, asking them to follow, to bring His gospel to bring His gospel message of hope and peace to the far corners of the earth, so that He might turn them into fishers of men.

And He even uses the insignificant, like a small, plain fish, to remind me of forgotten truths, that His ways are not my ways. He looks beyond the obvious and sees straight into the heart of each soul. He is still calling out to the weary. He is still using the small and the weak and the scared. He is still defeating the enemy with the willing underdog and the wounded sinner. And He promises to us that He has great plans for our lives too, if only we are willing to be used for His glory.

Paige is a friend of mine I know through homeschooling and Five-in-a-Row. She lives in the heart of Cajun country in Louisiana with her husband Jon, their five children (ages 8-13), one lazy beagle and a plain betta fish named Sushi. When not climbing the endless mountain of dirty laundry, Paige enjoys encouraging women in their faith through writing and speaking. You can find more of her writings on her personal blog, Paige’s Pages.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


If you don't watch anything else this week, watch this video. Yes, it is that important.

Don't just be a bystander as history marches along. Be a part of making history. Even more importantly, be a part of making a hope-filled future worth living.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


This past weekend, I turned 46. And because I love any excuse to have fun and I really love birthdays, my celebration kind of stretched out over the entire weekend.

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On Friday night, Jim and the two oldest kids made supper for me.

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Betsie was in charge of the dessert, a fabulous recipe she got when we visited Swaziland and ate with new friends in Big Bend, and also made delicious, Rachael Ray, roast beef sandwiches that are a favorite with our family. Jim made oven "fried" portabello mushroom strips with a spicy yogurt dressing while Anna made sweet potato oven "fries".

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On Saturday morning, Betsie made breakfast --- pancakes for the kids and omelets for me and the hubby.

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After the scrumptious meal, it was time for the presents. I love, love, love getting presents. I often chant that Blue's Clues birthday thingie --- "present time, present time, open it up and see what's inside!" --- yeah.

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Anyway, the kids and the mister gave me wonderful presents. I didn't even post photos from them all but you get the idea. They spoiled me rotten....okay, even more rotten than I already am!

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Lunch that day was at my youngest son's CubScout Blue & Gold Banquet. It was made even more special because my best friend Rhonda and her family was there and Travis is big friends with her younger boys who are also CubScouts.

Then that afternoon, the three oldest girls and I met Rhonda's family at the movies to watch THE LORAX. We moms even managed to sit together which is a big deal when there were 8 kids involved plus one husband. We loved the movie and I loved getting to share it not just with my girls but with my best friend, too. Laughter is always better and louder when surrounded by loved ones, especially funny loved ones.

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After the little kids went to bed that night, the teenagers and me watched two episodes of the new season of DOWNTON ABBEY. Anna gave me the 2nd season as my birthday gift. We love this show!

On Sunday, I stayed home in the a.m. with a sick, little Merry but I got to go out and mingle with folks that afternoon. When a hurried lunch was done, the teenagers plus my "son from another mother" and I all piled in the van and went to a housewarming party for our good friends, the Jeffcoats. Then it was on to youth worship band practice for most of the teenagers while I went on to WE WILL GO. My last gift of the weekend was getting to spend time with friends we went to church with over 13 years ago. I'd seen the Hamiltons a couple of times since then at WWG but it was my first time to see the Dollarhides in all that time. Catching up with, hearing how God's been moving in their lives, and getting to also hear the testimony of a new friend at WWG was the perfect ending to my birthday weekend and a true gift indeed.

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Truly, friends are among the very best gifts that God has ever given me. My life is richly blessed with so many old and new friends. I feel like a billionaire!